Where Are They Now: McMahan transitions from college star to high school assistant

McMahan locks in on the opposing offense as a Golden Eagle defensive back.

McMahan locks in on the opposing offense as a Golden Eagle defensive back.

David McMahan played on the last Heritage football to defeat both Alcoa and Maryville.

Now, as an assistant coach at Cleveland High School, he will once again face his former county rivals over the next two seasons in the Alcoa-Maryville Kickoff Classic.

“One of my greatest memories from high school was going to Maryville and going in as underdogs then upsetting their seventeen game winning streak,” McMahan said.

The 1999 Mountaineers, led defensively by McMahan, made a remarkable turnaround winning six more games than they did the previous year. The team went 7-4 while earning a spot in the playoffs, something no Heritage team has done since.

As a senior, McMahan expanded his role, leading the Mountaineers offense from under center. With him at quarterback, the Mountaineers got their season off to fast start, winning their first three games by a combined 101-8 margin, but his promising senior campaign was cut short by a hamstring injury in Week 7.

“It was heart wrenching, coming in controlling your own future with a shot to win the region.” McMahan said, “You have the chance to do these great things with your team and then you have to just stand there and watch… it hurts.”

McMahan’s playing days would continue after high school for the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, where he would become a four-year starter at safety.

“I have a lot great memories from my time at Tech,” he said. “My first year there we played Bowling Green, coached by Urban Meyer. Then the next week we went to Iowa State and played against Seneca Wallace. We went up to Northern Illinois when they had Michael “the Burner” Turner, and we played in some of college football’s best atmospheres.”

McMahan was awarded Tennessee Tech’s Man of the Year Award his senior season in Cookeville, the most prestigious award Tech’s athletic department offers.

“It goes to someone who distinguishes themselves, who goes above and beyond in terms of leadership and has strong community involvement while maintaining a certain GPA, someone who sets an example for others,” McMahan said. “It’s something I’m proud to have earned.”

After completing his eligibility, McMahan began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tech but has since moved on to teach and coach at Cleveland. The Blue Raiders, along with Webb School of Knoxville, have agreed to participate in the Alcoa-Maryville Kickoff Classic, a 2011, season-opening doubleheader.

“Those are some great programs, and you have to go out there and fight against them.” McMahan said. “It’s going to be fun to get to come back home to play. It’s two great programs, and I’m looking forward to getting to play them.”

McMahan coaches the receiving corps for the Blue raiders and also is the head freshman team coach, but his role as a teacher is less defined.

“I’m teaching all kinds of things,” he said. “I have finance classes, an ACT prep class and then a couple PE classes. It’s pretty diverse.”

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